So, you might be looking at the above picture and thinking – ugh! What’s wrong with Steve’s arm? Looks like it’s going to pop! Well… kinda, but it’s all for a good cause.
I’m currently on a 5-day program (for 8 weeks), and on Day 5 I dedicate the whole workout for isolation work on the Biceps and Triceps. Whilst I get a lot of work on these muscle groups throughout my Upper/Lower days, my arms need more stimulus. They need more size. Check out my Body Journey and 2018 Goals intro post for more detail, but I basically want to grow my arms from 16″ to 18″ in the next 12-24 months. With that in mind, I need higher frequency work done on my arms, I need to be dialling in my diet, and need to have consistency on hypertrophy work.
As part of this Arms Day, I include some Occlusion Training (otherwise known as Blood Flow Restriction Training – BFR) right at the end, on both the Biceps and Triceps. Trust me, you’ve got to try it to fully appreciate the benefits. In a nutshell, you put some tight bands (think like a tourniquet) around your arms as pictured, with the intent to restrict the return flow of blood from the muscle but allow the arteries to pump blood in. You then do a LOT of reps with a light weight!
What you are doing is allowing for a build up of waste product and lactic acid in your muscle, without the ability for it to flow out and be replenished with fresh oxygenated blood. This pooling of lactic acid and the accumulation of low oxygen in the muscle increases protein synthesis (the process used to repair and grow muscle) and forces your body to recruit larger fast-twitch fibres. It was discovered as an effective training technique for injured athletes that could not place much load on a damaged tendon/bone, but with BFR they could train with light weights and stimulate muscle growth nonetheless.
IN MY EXPERIENCE – It Works!
You get a massive pump. You’re arms feel bigger immediately. Now, that ‘swole’ look does die down a little while after training, but I have seen a noticeable change in my muscle fullness and size since incorporating them in addition to my compound lifting and traditional isolation work on the Biceps and Triceps.
Biceps – Personally, I do 5 Sets of 15 Reps with just 30 seconds break between sets, using a 11kg Dumbbell. I’ll be able to jump up soon on the weight perhaps to 14kg, but remember, it’s about volume, low rest and good form so you get maximum pump. it’s NOT about the weight of the dumbbell.
Triceps: With the BFR bands in the same place, I do Bench Dips with feet elevated and a 20kg plate on my lap. Again, 5 Sets of 15 Reps with just 30 seconds break between sets.
Check out the #HyperWorkouts Arms Day video to see this in action.
CAUTION: It will burn! That will be the build up of the lactic acid, which is unable to escape. Plus, you will get a sick vascular look going (as per my pic), and once you release the bands, your arms will look super puffy. But don’t fret – it feels great and it gets results!
Follow this blog as it unfolds, and I deliver more raw and honest experiences. Comment if you have questions or ideas.